Two things I wish I had learned this week

Funny how children can make it crystal clear the extent of things we parents don't know. Even adult children —perhaps even more so our adult children — shed light on the knowledge we lack.

It took the briefest of conversations with Megan this week to make it clear that I've got some learning to do, especially as it relates to two particular situations.

mourning statue

The first thing I wish I had learned this week:
Megan called me a few nights ago to, among other things, express her distress about the manner in which some folks were acting upon the death of a community member. We both agreed that it gets our panties in a bunch when people who were never close to an individual in life muddle about in various states of dithering and distress upon that person's passing, wearing their pain and sadness at the loss of the relatively distant acquaintance as if they had known the deceased dearly, thus justifying their excessive funereal attentions.

That's annoying. And it's so very wrong as it undervalues the pain of those who were intimate with the one who has passed. And it makes you want to shake such individuals for turning heartbreaking situations into being about them, Megan and I agreed. We also agreed in frustration that there needs to be an accurately descriptive word for that behavior that bothers us so.

A later search online for such a word came up with zilch — mostly because how do you search for something you don't know how to describe... which is exactly the reason you're searching?

A word or phrase for such behavior (funeral mongering? faux mourning?) is the first thing I wish I had learned this week. But I didn't.

five-year-old childIntrigued by Gramma's iPhone

The second thing I wish I had learned this week:
Though Megan's phone call to me began with what I noted above, her main reason for calling centered around the fact that Bubby has started taking things that are not his. I guess you could call it stealing. But do 5-year-old kids understand the concept of stealing when they pocket toys and trinkets from others at school and hide them under the covers in their bed? Well, I suppose when put that way, it does kind of seem like stealing.

But that's not what I wanted to learn. After Megan told the tale of Bubby's infractions and subsequent discipline, Megan and I discussed how frustrating it is to discipline a child and have the end result be that though the child may apologize for his or her actions, they show no remorse. It makes you want to shake some sense into them, we agreed. What good is an apology with no remorse?

More importantly, how do you teach remorse? How do you get a kid to truly and honestly feel bad about his bad behavior? Not ashamed, just... remorseful.

Megan asked me what I did when she and her sisters were young when I caught them stealing. To be honest, I could offer only one half memory of dealing with Brianna (I think it was her) nabbing a package of gum once when we were grocery shopping. I made her hand it to the cashier and apologize for taking it. And I kind of, sort of, halfway recall her showing remorse for her bone-headed bungled attempt at thievery.

I racked my brain trying to recall how I managed to get a little remorse out of my gum-nabbing daughter, yet I had no answer. I couldn't offer Megan advice or tips or sage stories of instilling remorse in a 5-year-old kid because, to be honest, I think I just lucked out in that area.

How I could pass along that luck to Megan is the second thing I wish I had learned this week. But I didn't.

Perhaps next week I'll learn the things I wish I had learned this week.

Or perhaps I'll learn the answers to both today... courtesy your comments on my ignorance.


Update on my sister: There's actually a third thing I wish I had learned this week and that would be the date my sister — who's still on the ICU floor at the hospital in Denver — might return home. Debbie continues to have issues related to her diagnosed pulmonary arterial hypertension, continues to confound doctors with those issues. I did learn she's improved in many respects, though, the learning of which makes the things I didn't learn matter far less.

Enjoy your weekend!

Today's question:

What did you learn — or not learn — this week?